The Nth Power – Abundance (2015)

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In existence for only three years, the cross-genre quintet The Nth Power quickly coalesced following an impromptu jam in the wee hours at the 2012 New Orleans Jazz Fest, and the spirit and energy of the annual gathering has stayed with them since. It was readily on display in their debut EP, the humbly titled Basic Minimum Skills Test and it continues into their first, full-fledged long player, Abundance, released on November 13, 2015.

The abundance of “N’s” in the band — Nikki Glaspie (lead vocals, drums), Nigel Hall (vocals, keyboards), Nick Cassarino (lead vocals, guitar) & Nate Edgar (bass) — are matched by an abundance of know-how and talent that collectively comes from the experience of working with stars across a diverse cross section: Beyoncé, Chaka Khan, Ivan Neville’s Dumpstaphunk, Maceo Parker and Ravi Coltrane, and that’s only touching on Glaspie’s resume. Their own porridge brings together funk, rock, jazz, jam, soul, World Beat, Gospel and folk, all hand made to soul-stirring perfection.

Since joined by Ghanan-American percussion specialist Weedie Braimah, Abundance follows through on the promise of the EP and an interim single. It’s an album not just about energy and chops, both of which come easily to this gang, but also of faith and spirit.

The chops and energy are clearly felt on the opener, “Intro,” a mid-tempo instrumental groove to let’s you know that the coming vocals are more than adequately backed. The areas of faith and spirituality permeate much of the remainder of the album, too: the folk/soul hymn “Walk On Water,” constructed around a weighty Gospel theme, and maneuvers from the delicate to the powerful with the satisfying blend of acoustic guitars and a righteous organ. “Holy Rain” is themed on a calling from God to a soldier wounded on the battlefield to go make the world a better place, bolstered by the careful cadence of a crack jazz unit and fervent Sunday morning vocals. “Only Love” is uplifting, with ascendant chorus harmonies on a timeless, universal theme that in the wake of the Paris attacks ring truer now more than over.

But nowhere does positivity render better than on “Right Now,” a song that should be playing on every radio, and so redolent of classic Earth, Wind and Fire. It’s a song with lyrics about living in the moment that’s reinforced by Glaspie’s, Braimah’s and Edgar’s tight dance groove.

Horns accentuate the groove on the Roy Ayers-styled soul-jazz number “Waiting,” and “Only You” is an impressive Isley Brothers’ “Footsteps” rewrite with a touch of Frankie Beverly and Maze. “Soul Survivor” is the most complex composition undertaken here, balancing dreamy fusion flavorings with Glaspie singing lead vocal against the Cassarino-sung driving rock.

Hall left Nth Power after the recording of Abundance to pursue a solo career and he’s since been replaced by Courtney “Jay-Mel” Smith on keys and vocals. That effectively closes the first chapter for the Nth Power, and it’s been a great story so far.


S. Victor Aaron

S. Victor Aaron

S. Victor Aaron is an SQL demon for a Fortune 100 company by day, music opinion-maker at night. His musings are strewn out across the interwebs on jazz.com, AllAboutJazz.com, a football discussion board and some inchoate customer reviews of records from the late 1990s on Amazon under a pseudonym that will never be revealed. E-mail him at svaaron@somethingelsereviews .com or follow him on Twitter at https://twitter.com/SVictorAaron
S. Victor Aaron

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